HBO hackers release more data, but Game of Thrones is oddly absent
Another week, another HBO leak has hit the internet. This time, however, the hackers didn’t release anything about Game of Thrones.
Last week the HBO hackers issued a ransom note along with its latest data dump. This week they’ve followed through on some of their threats, releasing unaired episodes from the highly anticipated Season 10 of Curb Your Enthusiasm due to air in October.
Alongside Curb were episodes of Insecure, Ballers and the unaired shows Barry and The Deuce.
Interestingly, despite having leaked scripts from Game of Thrones, they haven’t followed through with releasing unaired episodes. Chances are this is because they’re holding onto more damaging data – nothing would be more crushing to HBO right now than releasing the final episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
It’s also likely the hackers hold sensitive personal information on HBO employees that could be used as leverage.
In an emailed statement on Sunday, HBO said it’s “not going to participate” with the hackers. They see it nothing more than an attempt to generate headlines by using “bits and pieces of stolen information.” HBO also stated that it is not in communication with the hackers and it also doesn’t believe its email system as a whole hasn’t been breached.
Last week’s leak includes scripts for the first four episodes of Game of Thrones season 7 as well as the script of the upcoming fifth episode, all watermarked with “HBO is Falling.” The leak additionally features internal memos, emails, accounts, and contracts, plus the extortion note.
In a letter, published as a video soundtracked by the Game of Thrones theme tune, the hacker, or hackers, posting under the name Mr Smith, have sent an ultimatum to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, demanding money for the safe return of the data.
“Our demand is clear and Non-Negotiable. HBO spends 12 million for Market Research and 5 million for GOT7 advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements!,” the video explains. It then sets a deadline for three days from the date of publication.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, HBO confirmed the breach last week saying it had “recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information,” and that the network was working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms to investigate the breach. “Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold,” the statement continued.
In total, it is now believed more than 3 terabytes of data was taken but the method of attack is not yet known. It came to light when an anonymous email was sent to reporters which read: “The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!! Enjoy it & spread the words. Whoever spreads well, we will have an interview with him. HBO is falling.” HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler is said to have emailed staff hours later saying: “The problem before us is unfortunately all too familiar in the world we now find ourselves a part of. As has been the case with any challenge we have ever faced, I have absolutely no doubt that we will navigate our way through this successfully.”
This is not the first time HBO, or a major Hollywood network, has been hit this way. In 2015, the first four episodes of Game of Thrones series 5 leaked online. In April, season 5 of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black was targeted. Both pale into insignificance when compared to the 100TB stolen during the 2014 Sony hack.
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